Q Why are those new carpool lanes on Interstate 880 not toll lanes? We have one on southbound I-680. I thought the Bay Area was going to be adding many more toll lanes.
A Some day this will be a toll lane, but that is several years off, as the funding covered only the widening. The next toll lanes in the Bay Area will come on Interstate 580 in two-plus years. Over the next decade, they'll be added on the approaches to several state-owned bridges, on I-80 between Cordelia and Fairfield, on Highway 85 and 101 in the South Bay, I-880 from Milpitas to Oakland and I-680 from the Benicia Bridge to I-580.
Q I saw the announcement that Caltrans has broken ground on the new westbound carpool lane on Interstate 580. After it opens, it will almost immediately be converted to a toll lane. Will the new toll lane be a limited entrance lane like the one on southbound 680, and why don't they just build it as a toll lane to start with since they will convert it so quickly?
A The new 580 lane striping will be different from on I-680 for the most part, allowing merging in and out of the toll lane almost anywhere, as is the case on most Bay Area carpool lanes. However, access will be limited at the approach to the I-680 interchange to prevent weaving/merging in the last minute from the toll lane and to prevent slow vehicles from 580 from entering the toll lane.
The toll and carpool lanes could open about the same time in late 2015. Because of funding issues, they are being built in two different phases.
Q I'm curious to know what statistical measure is used to find out if our $64 million was worth spending for the new carpool lanes on Interstate 880 between Highway 101 and Highway 237. Will you let us know the expected and actual improvement from this project?
A Caltrans estimates there will be a one-minute savings in time during the morning northbound commute and four minutes in the afternoon. And for the southbound side, Caltrans expects a savings of four minutes in the morning and 14 minutes in the afternoon. More than 17,000 vehicles drive this stretch daily during the peak hour of the commute, so even a one-minute savings adds up. But I trust folks will let me know if they think the new lanes are worth the cost.
Q There is a road sign with the distances in miles and kilometers about a mile after Exit 37 on Interstate 580 east. Why is this the only place, maybe in the entire U.S., that the distance is also given in kilometers?
A It's not. Signs with miles and kilometer were first developed in the 1970s, when it appeared the U.S. might go metric. But that plan fizzled in 1983. Caltrans typically replaces these signs when they wear out or are damaged. The state says there are a few other such signs in the state, but not many.
Q Every day I drive to work on Interstate 680 and pass Rudgear Road in Walnut Creek, where a recent letter in your column complained about a memorial becoming an "unsightly pile of trash." Is she kidding? It is well off the road and is merely a small wooden cross with a few flowers at the base. Unsightly? Baloney! It's barely noticeable. For goodness' sake, get a life.
A Your point is made.
Q How come we don't have metering lights for Highway 92 entering 101? Traffic hits a standstill around Hillsdale Road in San Mateo and Ralston Avenue from the loads of traffic flying off westbound 92 onto 101. It doesn't seem fair that they have meters at 92-880 but not at 92-101.
A Metering lights will be coming later this fall on the northern section of 101 from Highway 92 to Harney Way. There will be freeway-to-freeway meters from west 92 to north 101 and east 92 to south 101. There are no plans to meter the other connectors.
Q Gary, I hope you're doing OK and your treatments are going well. Can you update us on your health when you have a moment? Concerned Roadshow fans would like to know how you're doing.
A I'm doing OK. Progress is far slower than I would like and I will likely have my ailing foot in a cast-like boot for another six months, which means no driving for the most part. The doctor has cleared me for short driving trips in our neighborhood but not more.
This has been no fun, but the back is feeling better and my foot doctor wants me to test walking short distances again. Thanks to all those who have asked about my health.